Reactions to FCC Vote on ISP Transparency Regulation

Coverage Type: 

The Federal Communications Commission voted to significantly expand an exemption from the transparency requirements on internet service providers that were enacted in the 2015 Open Internet Order. The expanded exemption will excuse any ISP with up to 250,000 subscribers from complying with those transparency rules.

Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood: “Here’s how cost-benefit analysis works in the Trump administration and at the Pai FCC: If any favored lobby like the cable industry claims that rules cost them money, the agency will zap those rules — without any regard for their benefits. There’s been a lot of ink spilled in the last two years about protecting small businesses from the alleged regulatory burdens of the Net Neutrality rules. But just as big cable and phone companies have failed to prove any harms from the rules in general, small ISPs have failed to demonstrate any real burdens from following these common-sense transparency requirements. The hopelessly vague, wildly disparate and frankly underwhelming numbers that various lobbying groups have sprinkled around in the docket to argue for this exemption are no justification for enlarging and extending it. Companies with hundreds of thousands of customers and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues can certainly afford to inform those customers about the services they buy. A few truly small businesses do sell internet access. But millions more small businesses buy it. There’s no reason that customers of smaller ISPs deserve less information than others do about the internet services they pay so much for each and every month.”

Ryan Clough, General Counsel at Public Knowledge: “Yet again, Chairman Pai has acted to weaken consumer protections at the FCC. Today’s action means that more ISPs could withhold essential information about their broadband pricing and service, making it harder for many more subscribers to make informed decisions and hold their providers accountable. How can it be good for consumers if companies conceal anything about the price, speed, and data caps for their broadband service?"

American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka: "ACA applauds the FCC for reinstating, extending, and expanding the small Internet service provider (ISP) exemption from the Open internet enhanced transparency requirements. The FCC's action was clearly warranted. As ACA and others demonstrated - and as a bi-partisan group of Members of Congress found - application of these requirements to small ISPs would impose unreasonable costs on them while providing little, if any, benefit for end users and edge providers. ACA thanks Chairman Pai and Commissioner O'Rielly for acting so swiftly to remove the uncertainty small ISPs have lived under for the past two months. ACA also thanks Commissioner Clyburn, who understood the burdens the enhanced requirements imposed on small ISPs and who worked diligently since last fall to try to fashion a consensus solution."

NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield: “NTCA worked hard alongside a group of like-minded stakeholders to ensure that small businesses would not be burdened by substantial new compliance obligations that could easily overwhelm their operations and distract from delivery of services to consumers. While it took longer to get here than everyone expected and hoped, we are grateful to the FCC for restoring much-needed relief from these rules. NTCA members are delighted to be able to focus more instead on the business of delivering high-quality broadband services to rural consumers.”

It Begins: Trump’s FCC Launches Attack on Net Neutrality Transparency Rules (Vice) Public Knowledge Opposes FCC Action to Exempt Many More ISPs from Enhanced Transparency Requirements (Public Knowledge) ACA Applauds FCC Vote On Enhanced Transparency (ACA) NTCA Response to Mobility Fund Order and Enhanced Transparency Exemption (NTCA) FCC Chairman Pai Moves Against Net Neutrality, Drops Transparency Rules for Millions of Internet Users (Free Press)